The Secret to Throwing Strikes


I have heard many different keys to throwing strikes from players and coaches, most of which involve varying release points and arm action in some way shape and form. I don’t want you thinking about any of that when you throw. The truth is, if you look at pitchers' Trackman data across the MLB, players very rarely duplicate the same release point throughout the course of a game. A player might have the same release height and extension only once or twice a game despite throwing the same pitch to the same location numerous times a game. So it goes to reason if the most elite pitchers in the game can’t repeat their throwing mechanics pitch-to-pitch, then how could our youth pitchers possible do so? There is no such thing as a repeatable delivery.

Here in Healthy Heat we try to create feel for proper movement patterns to help keep you connected and put your body in the best possible position to maximize your body’s power safely. You are not going to exactly replicate that movement from pitch-to-pitch. As Randy Sullivan of the Florida Baseball Ranch likes to put it, "a repeatable delivery is a unicorn."

So how can you repeatedly throw strikes and command the strike zone if there is no such thing as a repeatable delivery? Here’s the secret in three easy steps: Move Fast, Throw Hard, and Always Pick a Target. It’s really that simple! Throwing accurately requires fine motor control. If you miss your release point by 1 degree that results in you missing your target by 0.96 feet! So you can’t realistically fix your control by trying to release the ball later or feeling your way through your release point. You need to create proprioception, the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself, of throwing accurately to a target and you need to do it at as close to game speed as possible. That is why we tell our players that every throw is a chance to get better or worse. Choose to get better by moving fast, throwing hard, and picking a target. Then do it again and again until you become a master of your craft.

You can speed up the process of creating proprioception by doing what we call myelinating. Myelinating is celebrating or showing emotion after we do something good. Myelin is a substance your body creates to insulate your brain’s wiring. Every action you perform your brain secretes a layer of myelin to coat the neural pathway for that action. This is basically what we call muscle memory. The more insulated a neural pathway is the more likely you are to repeat that action. Studies have shown that if you add emotion to an action your body will secrete more myelin, resulting in increased muscle memory of that action. So every time you move fast, throw hard, and hit your target show some emotion and celebrate that action! However, your body does not distinguish between positive and negative emotion. So if you do not hit your target, do not show a negative emotion or your body will remember that action more than it normally would as well.

So, get out there and move fast, throw hard, pick a target, celebrate when you hit it, and become a master of commanding the strike zone!

Sean McCourt
Director of Pitching

Come join us in Healthy Heat!